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posted by martyb on Thursday September 01 2016, @12:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the deadly-embrace dept.

Kratom, an herbal drug made of ground-up tree leaves, is "temporarily" joining other natural substances such as cannabis, psilocybin, and peyote on the schedule I list of the Controlled Substances Act. The active ingredients in kratom, the indole alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, are both being added to the list for up to three years, after which they can be added permanently.

Prior to this move, the U.S. has already been seizing shipments of kratom:

In 2014, the FDA issued an import alert that allowed US Customs agents to detain kratom without a physical examination. "We have identified kratom as a botanical substance that could pose a risk to public health and have the potential for abuse," said Melinda Plaisier, the FDA's associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. According to the DEA, between February 2014 and July 2016, nearly 247,000 pounds of kratom were seized.

Advocates say that kratom is a natural treatment for opioid addiction, an application that the Drug Enforcement Agency dismisses. Meanwhile, the heroin/opioid epidemic continues with "unprecedented" events like the recent 174 heroin overdoses in just six days in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Check out the implosion of this kratom subreddit, which is attempting to get 100,000 signatures on the White House petition site:

APATHY WILL GET US NOWHERE. IF THERE WAS EVER A TIME FOR US TO BAND TOGETHER, ITS NOW. stand with me brothers and sisters. hope is not lost.

Original Submission

Related Stories

Obama Administration Expands Access to Suboxone Treatment 10 comments

The Obama administration is loosening restrictions on buprenorphine/Suboxone prescriptions in order to fight the "heroin epidemic", while calling on Congress to act on a request for $1.1 billion in additional funding for opioid treatment programs across the U.S.:

The Obama administration is making it easier for people addicted to opioids to get treatment. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced new rules Wednesday to loosen restrictions on doctors who treat people addicted to heroin and opioid painkillers with the medication buprenorphine. Doctors who are licensed to prescribe the drug, which is sold mostly under the brand name Suboxone, will be allowed to treat as many as 275 patients a year. That's almost triple the current limit of 100, and HHS estimated that as many as 70,000 more people may have access to the drug as a result.

"There are a number of ways we are trying to increase access to medication-assisted treatment," said Michael Botticelli, the director of national drug control policy, on a conference call with reporters. "This rule itself expands access and gets more physicians to reach more patients."

Suboxone is itself an opioid. It eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but doesn't make people high. [...] Botticelli said an average 129 people a day die from opioid overdoses.

Here is some basic information about the differences between buprenorphine (Suboxone) and Naloxone (Narcan).

White House Announces Heroin Response Strategy for the US Northeast
Alarming Rise in Death Rates for Middle-Aged White Americans
Kroger Supermarkets to Carry Naloxone Without a Prescription
4/20: Half-Baked Headline

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Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid 32 comments

When customers want a longer-lasting high, heroin dealers respond by augmenting their products with drugs like carfentanil:

A powerful drug that's normally used to tranquilize elephants is being blamed for a record spike in drug overdoses in the Midwest. Officials in Ohio have declared a public health emergency, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says communities everywhere should be on alert for carfentanil. The synthetic opioid is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, the prescription painkiller that led to the death earlier this year of the pop star Prince. Fentanyl itself can be up to 50 times more deadly than heroin.

In the past few years, traffickers in illegal drugs increasingly have substituted fentanyl for heroin and other opioids. Now carfentanil [alt link] is being sold on American streets, either mixed with heroin or pressed into pills that look like prescription drugs. Many users don't realize that they're buying carfentanil. And that has deadly consequences.

"Instead of having four or five overdoses in a day, you're having these 20, 30, 40, maybe even 50 overdoses in a day," says Tom Synan, who directs the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition Task Force in Southwest Ohio. He's also the police chief in Newtown, Ohio. Synan says carfentanil turned up in Cincinnati in July. At times, the number of overdoses has overwhelmed first responders. "Their efforts are truly heroic, to be going from call to call to call," he says. "One district alone had seen 14 in one shift, so they were nonstop."

First responders and emergency room workers are being told to wear protective gloves and masks. That's because carfentanil is so potent, it can be dangerous to someone who simply touches or inhales it. This was devastatingly clear back in 2002, after a hostage rescue operation in Moscow that went wrong. To overpower Chechen terrorists who'd seized control of a theater, Russian Special Forces sprayed a chemical aerosol into the building. More than 100 hostages were overcome and died. Laboratory tests by British investigators later revealed [open, DOI: 10.1093/jat/bks078] [DX] that the aerosol included carfentanil.

In the article about the DEA adding kratom to Schedule I, I mentioned an "unprecedented" amount of "heroin" overdoses in Cincinnati. The carfentanil-cut heroin boosted the overdose tally to 174 in 6 days (225 in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and New Jersey):

Deaths have not spiked along with the overdose reports because police officers or emergency medical technicians are immediately administering naloxone, sometimes in more than one dose, to bring heroin users back to consciousness and start them breathing.

Original Submission

The Calm Before the Kratom Ban 27 comments

The blowback against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's decision to ban kratom has caught the attention of a bipartisan group of legislators, but a DEA spokesman has said that "It's not a matter of if. It's simply a matter of when" the DEA bans kratom:

A bipartisan group of nine senators is calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to delay its "unprecedented" decision to ban kratom, a plant that researchers say holds great potential for mitigating the effects of the opioid epidemic. [...] The Senate letter, spearheaded by Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) says: "Congress granted emergency scheduling authority to the DEA based on the need for law enforcement interdiction of new and previously unknown illegal synthetic street drugs that result in injuries and death. The use of this emergency authority for a natural substance is unprecedented, so it is important to determine whether the circumstances here necessitate a jump to Schedule I.

"Given the long reported history of Kratom use," the letter continues, "coupled with the public's sentiment that it is a safe alternative to prescription opioids, we believe using the regular review process would provide for a much-needed discussion among all stakeholders." [...] The DEA cites 600-plus poison-control center calls involving kratom between 2010 and 2015 in its justification for banning the plant, and notes that 15 deaths were linked to the use of the plant between 2014 and 2016. In an interview with The Washington Post, a DEA spokesman later clarified that all but one of those fatalities involved the use of other substances. Earlier this week 51 U.S. representatives similarly called on the DEA and the White House to reconsider or at least delay the ban, which was slated to go into effect as early as Friday. In an interview, DEA spokesman Russell Baer confirmed that the ban was not yet in place. "We have not yet determined a date when we will publish that final order" putting the ban into effect, he said.

There may be a public comment period before the ban takes effect, and the White House is now obligated to respond to the petition about kratom, which has reached over 140,000 signatures.

Text of the Senators' letter. Also at Ars Technica, CBS, and US News & World Report.

Previously: DEA Welcomes Kratom to the Schedule I List Beginning September 30
Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid
Alcohol Industry Bankrolls Fight Against Legal Pot in Battle of the Buzz [Updated]

Original Submission

One Upside to Opioid Overdoses: More Organ Donors 21 comments

More organs have become available for transplant in British Columbia, Canada, due to a rise in drug overdoses:

After a brutal year where more than 900 people died of drug overdoses in British Columbia, doctors are pointing to one morbid upside. It might sound like something out of a dystopian horror comic, where drug users are wiped out and harvested for organs. New stats released by the health agency responsible for organ transplants show that's not exactly a far-off nightmare anymore. Health officials have noticed a significant uptick in organ donor deaths, and say that fentanyl is likely playing a role. According to BC Transplant, the number of organ donors in the first weeks of 2017 has doubled over this time last year, from 10 to 20. That's resulted in 59 transplants, up from 37 organs over the same period in 2016.

[...] "We started tracking the connection between fentanyl and organ donation more closely at the start of 2017, and fentanyl has been a contributing factor in about a quarter of our donors so far this year." BC Transplant's statement cautions against drawing conclusions based on a small amount of recent data. But long term trends show the proportion of organ donors dying from overdose has gone up steadily over many years. Back in 2013, 7.5 percent of organ donors tested positive for drugs. In 2016, that number rose to 22.7 percent.

Previously: Opioid Addiction is Big Business
Obama Administration Expands Access to Suboxone Treatment
DEA Welcomes Kratom to the Schedule I List Beginning September 30
Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid
The Calm Before the Kratom Ban

Original Submission

4/20: The Third Time's Not the Charm 55 comments

Past articles: 20152016

What's up, Soylenteers? I've got to write another one of these? #420TooMainstream.

Legalization Status

Timeline of cannabis laws in the United States
Timeline of cannabis law

Since this time last year, Ohio, Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas legalized medical cannabis, Illinois decriminalized it, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts legalized recreational cannabis. An attempt to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona narrowly failed.

29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, although restrictions vary widely from state to state.

Germany's medical cannabis law was approved in January and came into effect in March. Poland has also legalized medical cannabis, and Georgia's Supreme Court has ruled that imprisonment for possession of small amounts of cannabis is unconstitutional.

Recently: West Virginia on Course for Medical Marijuana

🍁 Cannada: Not So Fast 🍁

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled (archive) legislation (archive) that would make Canada the first major Western country to legalize recreational cannabis (the only country to legalize it to date is Uruguay, although implementation has taken years), dealing a serious blow to the crumbling United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. However, the Liberal Party of Canada intends to wait more than a year to act on its campaign promise, during which time Canadians can still face prosecution for possession of the drug:

True to form, this government has written down a series of talking points, in this case, trying to make it sound like it's cracking down on pot rather than legalizing it. And Justin Trudeau's ministers are sticking to the messaging from party central like a child reciting Dr. Seuss.

Not once in that As It Happens interview did [Justice Minister Jody] Wilson-Raybould explain why the government intends to keep on criminalizing Canadians so unfairly (see the Liberal party's website statement) for another year. Instead, literally every second time she opened her mouth, she re-spouted the line about "strictly regulating and restricting access." Off asked eight questions. Four times, Wilson-Raybould robotically reverted to the same phrase.

Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, a parliamentary lifer who mastered the art of repetitive dronetalk sometime back in the last millennium, was out peddling more or less the same line, but with an added warning: Not only will the government continue to criminalize Canadians for what it considers a trifling offence, enforcement will be vigorous. "Existing laws prohibiting possession and use of cannabis remain in place, and they need to be respected," Goodale declared. "This must be an orderly transition. It is not a free-for-all." Why the government cannot simply decide to invoke prosecutorial and police discretion, and cease enforcing the cannabis laws it considers unjust, was not explained. Why that would necessarily be a "free for all" also went unexplained.

The Liberal Party of Canada has taken pains to remind everyone that the Conservative Party will "do everything they can to stop real change and protect a failed status quo". Unfortunately, they did not get the memo that "marijuana" is a term with racist origins.

Make like a tree and legalize it, Cannadia... Cannibinoidia.

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Backtrack to April 20th, 2016. Bernie Sanders still seemingly had a shot at becoming the President of the United States. Sanders, as well as Hillary Clinton (though begrudgingly), supported decriminalization of cannabis, medical use, and the continuation of states making decisions about recreational use. The #2 Republican candidate Ted Cruz also had a "let the states sort it out" stance.

One contender stood out, and he went on to become the @POTUS to #MAGA. The widely predicted "third term" was prevented, and that outcome may greatly affect a burgeoning semi-legal cannabis industry. One recent casualty are Amsterdam-style "cannabis clubs" (think: brewpubs). Colorado's legislature has backed off on a bill that would have allowed on-site consumption of cannabis at dispensaries due to the uncertain future of federal enforcement of cannabis prohibition.

Trump's position on cannabis has been ill-defined, although he supports medical use and has indicated that states should handle the issue. But the same can't be said of his Attorney General, former Senator Jeff Sessions. Here are some quotes about the drug from Mr. Sessions:

I thought those guys were OK until I learned they smoked pot. [Source. Context: Sessions later testified that the comment was a joke.]

We need grown-ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it's in fact a very real danger.

I think one of [President Obama's] great failures, it's obvious to me, is his lax treatment in comments on marijuana... It reverses 20 years almost of hostility to drugs that began really when Nancy Reagan started 'Just Say No.

You can't have the President of the United States of America talking about marijuana like it is no different than taking a drink... It is different... It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.

Good people don't smoke marijuana.

Cannabis advocates are becoming increasingly paranoid about the federal government's stance towards the states (and a certain District) that have legalized cannabis. And this is following an Obama administration that was criticized for conducting raids in states with legalization. It is too early to tell how the Trump administration will choose to deal with cannabis, but there are signs that harsher policies and greater enforcement could be coming:

On Wednesday, [April 5th,] Jeff Sessions directed Justice Department lawyers to evaluate marijuana enforcement policy and send him recommendations. And some state officials are worried. This week the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington wrote the attorney general. They asked Sessions and the new Treasury secretary to consult with them before making any changes to regulations or enforcement.

At the White House, press secretary Sean Spicer said recently that the president is sympathetic to people who use marijuana for medical reasons. He pointed out that Congress has acted to bar the Justice Department from using federal money to interfere in state medical cannabis programs. But Spicer took a harsh view of recreational marijuana. "When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we need to be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law we need to abide by," Spicer said.

Really, Spicer? Recreational cannabis use shouldn't be encouraged during an opioid addiction crisis? Read on.

Politics nexus unavailable for comment.

The Opioid Crisis Drags On (it's relevant)

Heroin use has become more dangerous as dealers have increasingly added other substances that massively increase potency without affecting the size of a dose significantly. Carfentanil, which is used as an elephant tranquilizer, has led to hundreds of deaths over very short timespans. It is impossible for the average user to predict the potency and potential danger of street heroin. While there have been international responses to these compounds, new chemical analogues are being created all the time:

Chinese labs producing the synthetic opiates play hide-and-seek with authorities. On their websites, they list fake addresses in derelict shopping centers or shuttered factories, and use third-party sales agents to conduct transactions that are hard to trace. The drugs themselves are easy to find with a Google search and to buy with a few mouse clicks. A recent check found more than a dozen Chinese sites advertising fentanyl, carfentanil, and other derivatives, often labeled as "research chemicals," for sale through direct mail shipments to the United States. On one website, carfentanil goes for $361 for 50 grams: tens of thousands of lethal doses.

The cat-and-mouse game extends to chemistry, as the makers tinker with fentanyl itself. Minor modifications like adding an oxygen atom or shifting a methyl group can be enough to create whole new entities that are no longer on the list of sanctioned compounds. Carfentanil itself was, until recently, unregulated in China.

2016 saw the addition of kratom to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in the U.S. Advocates for the tree leaf drug, which was formerly classified as a supplement, believe that its painkiller effects and low risk factors make it a useful replacement for the oft-deadly opioids that millions of Americans are addicted to. Kratom users have treated their pain and opioid withdrawal symptoms using the formerly "legal high". The DEA has refused to acknowledge this application and points out the "skyrocketing" number of calls to the Poison Control Center regarding kratom in recent years. One skeptic of kratom, Dr. Josh Bloom of the American Council on Science and Health, has looked at the same evidence and concluded that the trail of bodies left by substances like fentanyl and the scarce number of deaths (perhaps wrongly) attributed to kratom make it clear that the substance is the better "poison". He also notes that:

The number of calls to poison control centers is not reliable for determining how many poisonings actually occurred. It is a crude approximation at best.

Much like kratom, medical cannabis has been touted as a solution to the opioid crisis. States with legalized medical cannabis have seen a reduction in reported instances of opioid dependence [DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.01.006] [DX] So it is puzzling that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer would use opioids as a bludgeon against cannabis legalization while AG Sessions expresses astonishment over the suggestion of using cannabis as a "cure" for the opioid crisis.

Bonus: Here's a video (2m14s) of a woman getting administered Narcan/naloxone. Here's an alternate video (2m39s) in which a man who overdosed on heroin is able to sit up in about a minute after being administered naloxone.

⚚ The Slow March for Science ⚕

While the Drug Enforcement Agency has refused to reclassify cannabis from its current Schedule I status, citing the supposedly rigorous conclusions reached by the Food and Drug Administration, it will allow more than one institution to grow cannabis for research purposes, ending the monopoly held by the University of Mississippi. However, the Schedule I status of cannabis remains an impediment to further research:

[...] DEA's decision not to reschedule marijuana presents a Catch-22. By ruling that there is not enough evidence of "currently accepted medical use"—a key distinction between the highly restrictive Schedule I classification and the less restrictive Schedule II—the administration essentially makes it harder to gather such evidence.

"They're setting a standard that can't be met," says David Bradford, a health economist at the University of Georgia, Athens. "That level of proof is never going to be forthcoming in the current environment because it requires doing a really extensive clinical trial series, and given that a pharmaceutical company can't patent whole plant marijuana, it's in no company's interest to do that."

Schedule I status presents obstacles for clinical researchers because of restrictions on how the drugs must be stored and handled, Bradford says. Perhaps more significant, that listing may evoke skittishness at funding agencies and on the institutional review boards that must sign off on research involving human subjects.

Researchers have disparaged the quality and potency as well as the appearance and odor of the University of Mississippi's cannabis products:

"It doesn't resemble cannabis. It doesn't smell like cannabis," Sisley told PBS NewsHour last week.

Jake Browne, a cannabis critic for the Denver Post's Cannabist marijuana news site, agrees. "That is, flat out, not a usable form of cannabis," he said. Browne should know: He's reviewed dozens of strains professionally and is running a sophisticated marijuana growing competition called the Grow-Off.

"In two decades of smoking weed, I've never seen anything that looks like that," Browne said. "People typically smoke the flower of the plant, but here you can clearly see stems and leaves in there as well, parts that should be discarded. Inhaling that would be like eating an apple, including the seeds inside it and the branch it grew on."

Research on cannabinoids and psychedelics is proceeding, slowly. One study published yesterday (74 years after the first LSD trip) came to an astounding conclusion: Psychedelics can induce a "heightened state of consciousness":

Healthy volunteers who received LSD, ketamine or psilocybin, a compound found in magic mushrooms, were found to have more random brain activity than normal while under the influence, according to a study into the effects of the drugs. The shift in brain activity accompanied a host of peculiar sensations that the participants said ranged from floating and finding inner peace, to distortions in time and a conviction that the self was disintegrating.

[...] What we find is that under each of these psychedelic compounds, this specific measure of global conscious level goes up, so it moves in the other direction. The neural activity becomes more unpredictable," said Anil Seth, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Sussex. "Until now, we've only ever seen decreases compared to the baseline of the normal waking state."


Increased spontaneous MEG signal diversity for psychoactive doses of ketamine, LSD and psilocybin (open, DOI: 10.1038/srep46421) (DX)

♯ Ending on High Notes ♯

Vape Naysh, y'all!

Opioid Crisis Official; Insys Therapeutics Billionaire Founder Charged; Walgreens Stocks Narcan 98 comments

"The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don't start, they won't have a problem." – President Donald J. Trump

President Trump has declared the "Opioid Crisis" a nationwide public health emergency. This action will allow for "expanded access to telemedicine services" to remotely prescribe medicines for substance abuse, allow the Department of Health and Human Services to "more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to our Nation's ongoing public health emergency", allow the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants for those "displaced from the workforce" due to the Opioid Crisis, and will help people with HIV/AIDS to receive substance abuse treatment. The press release lists several actions that the Trump Administration has taken to respond to the Opioid Crisis, including the July 2017 law enforcement action against AlphaBay.

The declaration has been criticized for not requesting any funds to respond to the Crisis. The "nationwide public health emergency" declaration is also distinct from a promised "national emergency declaration", which would have freed up money from the Disaster Relief Fund to be spent on the Crisis. 14 Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would authorize $45 billion to address the Opioid Crisis. The Obama Administration called on Congress last year to pass just over $1 billion in funding for opioid treatment programs nationwide. This funding was included in the 21st Century Cures Act.

The Department of Justice has arrested and charged the founder and majority owner of Insys Therapeutics Inc., John Kapoor, along with other executives from his company. Kapoor is accused with leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and illegally distribute the company's fentanyl spray, intended for cancer patients, so that it could be prescribed for non-cancer patients. Kapoor stepped down as CEO of Insys in January. Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said, "Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit. Today's arrest and charges reflect our ongoing efforts to attack the opioid crisis from all angles. We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable - just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer." Six former Insys executives and managers were charged in December.

[takyon: a262 would like you to know that Insys Therapeutics donated $500,000 to help defeat Arizona's 2016 ballot initiative that would have legalized recreational use of cannabis.]

FDA Blocks More Imports of Kratom, Warns Against Use as a Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal 22 comments

The FDA has issued a public health advisory warning of deaths related to kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) and warning against using it to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. The DEA attempted to temporarily regulate kratom as a schedule I drug in 2016, but stopped short of doing so after a public backlash. From FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb's statement on the advisory:

It's very troubling to the FDA that patients believe they can use kratom to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. The FDA is devoted to expanding the development and use of medical therapy to assist in the treatment of opioid use disorder. However, an important part of our commitment to this effort means making sure patients have access to treatments that are proven to be safe and effective. There is no reliable evidence to support the use of kratom as a treatment for opioid use disorder. Patients addicted to opioids are using kratom without dependable instructions for use and more importantly, without consultation with a licensed health care provider about the product's dangers, potential side effects or interactions with other drugs.

There's clear data on the increasing harms associated with kratom. Calls to U.S. poison control centers regarding kratom have increased 10-fold from 2010 to 2015, with hundreds of calls made each year. The FDA is aware of reports of 36 deaths associated with the use of kratom-containing products. There have been reports of kratom being laced with other opioids like hydrocodone. The use of kratom is also associated with serious side effects like seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms.

Given all these considerations, we must ask ourselves whether the use of kratom – for recreation, pain or other reasons – could expand the opioid epidemic. Alternatively, if proponents are right and kratom can be used to help treat opioid addiction, patients deserve to have clear, reliable evidence of these benefits.

FDA Labels Kratom an Opioid 37 comments

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has released a new statement denouncing the drug kratom. The statement says that the FDA has learned about new deaths that "involved" kratom use, additional adverse effects associated with its use have been found, and that Public Health Assessment via Structural Evaluation (PHASE) "3-D computer technology" has been used to analyze the chemical compounds in kratom:

Using this computational model, scientists at the FDA first analyzed the chemical structures of the 25 most prevalent compounds in kratom. From this analysis, the agency concluded that all of the compounds share the most structural similarities with controlled opioid analgesics, such as morphine derivatives.

The FDA continues to discourage the use of kratom, which it is calling an opioid.

CDC Warns of Salmonella Infections Linked to Kratom 16 comments

At this time, the CDC recommends that people not consume kratom in any form because it could be contaminated with salmonella:

An outbreak of 28 salmonella infections in 20 states has been linked to kratom products, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement Tuesday. Though no deaths have been reported, 11 people have been hospitalized.

[...] California had the highest number of salmonella cases (three). North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Utah each reported two cases while Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Dakota, New York, South Carolina and Tennessee each reported a single case, the CDC found.

Kratom should not be consumed in any form, the CDC said, because the source of salmonella contamination has not been identified.

Also at The Verge, STAT News, and CBS.

Previously: DEA Welcomes Kratom to the Schedule I List Beginning September 30
The Calm Before the Kratom Ban
FDA Blocks More Imports of Kratom, Warns Against Use as a Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal
FDA Labels Kratom an Opioid

Related: Opioid Commission Drops the Ball, Demonizes Cannabis

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @12:49PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @12:49PM (#396148)

    Meanwhile, the heroin/opioid epidemic continues with "unprecedented" events like the recent 174 heroin overdoses in just six days in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    This is only relevant if the herbs actually do help with addiction therapy. Because there is a problem with opiate addiction doesn't mean that is a green light to any substance that says it can treat it. We went through those pains when the 1996 dietary supplements act was passed and a flood of crap claims came onto the market (St. John's wort, echinacea, etc.).

    Might as well throw in a "think of the children" sentence there too.

    • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:17PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:17PM (#396156)

      True. Has there been any proof of harm so far though? This seems like the same frap that happened with Cannabis.

      • (Score: 1) by Francis on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:11PM

        by Francis (5544) on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:11PM (#396192)

        proof of harm is only relevant for classification as schedule 1, not for legality. Any recommendations for use for medical purposes is illegal without approval by the FDA.

        • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:22PM

          by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:22PM (#396196)

          I'm not talking about any claimed medical uses. I don't think that's the DEA's area anyway, it's the FDA. Basically, the DEA is making this drug illegal because ... they feel like it? Has there actually been any harm proven?

          • (Score: 1) by Francis on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:01PM

            by Francis (5544) on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:01PM (#396255)

            Yes and it was the FDA that sent out a bulletin that it wasn't approved for use in the US and should be impounded when found. The DEA was founded several years after the act that created this scheduling was.

            Also, the burden of proof here is on people that are trying to sell this stuff to demonstrate that it's safe and effective for use. This was the result of the previous system where people were allowed to bottle whatever they liked, make whatever claims about it they liked and people got sick and died as a result.

            I personally like knowing that if I'm taking something or eating something that it's established to be at least a little bit safe rather than being a complete unknown.

            • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:23PM

              by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:23PM (#396326)

              Isn't this just a frikkin' plant?

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @08:03PM

              by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @08:03PM (#396354) Journal

              Schedule I does a lot more than prevent some overseas people from shipping you some potentially dangerous drugs. It also prevents you from legally growing it in your own home, on your own terms. No tree leaves for you!

              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @06:27PM

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @06:27PM (#396303) Journal

            Apparently, the only deaths linked to kratom involved other substances.

            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:21PM (#396174)

      St. John's Wort

      While nowhere near as effective as say, kanna, St. John's Wort really does work for depression.

      If we are to be honest, Kratom may or may not be effective against opiate addiction. One thing is for sure though it certainly is competition to the drug cartel, who specialise in both legal opiates and street heroin, that currently run the government of the United States of America. That's the real reason for the scheduling.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:42PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:42PM (#396180)

        Do you have a reference?

        In the case of depression, the study should be double-blind and randomized with a placebo control or it will not be convincing.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:11PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:11PM (#396190)

          Please learn to use the internet. Multiple references are a single search away. And for anything, you really need to review multiple references as you can always find a reference to support the opinion you want. Find some references for the claim and some against the claim, then read them and come to whichever conclusion you want.

          From Wikipedia:
          Studies have supported the efficacy of St John's wort as a treatment for depression in humans.[5][15] A 2015 meta-analysis review concluded that it has superior efficacy to placebo in treating depression; is as effective as standard antidepressant pharmaceuticals for treating depression; and has fewer adverse effects than other antidepressants.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:39PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:39PM (#396283)

            Please learn to use the internet. Multiple references are a single search away.

            You must be new here. The burden of proof lies on the person making the claim.

            hypericum extracts are effective for the treatment of acute depression, but effects when compared with placebo were modest in size. With 40% of patients responding to placebo, an odds ratio of 1.69 (as found for SSRIs) would mean that 53% of patients receiving an antidepressant respond.

            St. John's wort seems to be somewhat effective (which meets the low bar of most other anti-depressants).


            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:27PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:27PM (#396426)

              We are not talking in person hundreds of years ago. It is trivial to pick out a minor mistake and twist that to invalid anyone's claim or miss a mistake through simple ignorance of the domain. By looking for the proof yourself, you learn far more of the subject area and can make a more accurate assessment if those minor mistakes matter. For example, I could quote that Slashdot article on tabs vs spaces. But if you never look into it yourself you won't realize the researchers never took into account that it takes multiple spaces to replace one tab. If you read their paper, you won't notice the mistake. If you read a few other studies, one of them is likely to mention that issue and then you'll know the first one's conclusions are invalid. You can never trust someone's citation, you always need to find them yourself. That couldn't be done 2000 years ago.

              Nowadays with a global internet available, the person making the claim only needs to give you enough info for you to find out for yourself.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @11:14PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 01 2016, @11:14PM (#396448)

                But if you never look into it yourself

                If you read their paper, you won't notice the mistake.

                I asked for the reference so I could look into the claim. If I am unable to evaluate the claim myself (due to lack of expertise), then I'd be satisfied by multiple reputable sources (these I'd find myself).

                Nowadays with a global internet available, the person making the claim only needs to give you enough info for you to find out for yourself.

                You are so very wrong here.

                On the internet, there are plenty of people that are disingenuous in the claims and questions they make. There are many people that will move the goalposts or dismiss the references you find as not being good enough.

                The burden of proof is even more important on the internet, since you have no real way of knowing if the person is a disingenuous crackpot/expert/troll/dog/bot/etc.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @09:59PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @09:59PM (#396410) Journal []

      In the words of a 2015 Brookings Institution report, a move to Schedule II "would signal to the medical community that [the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health] are ready to take medical marijuana research seriously, and help overcome a government-sponsored chilling effect on research that manifests in direct and indirect ways."

      Schedule I is a great way to stifle research that would be able to nail down the benefits and dangers of a drug like kratom.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:35PM

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:35PM (#396160) Journal

    I'd never heard of kratom until a few weeks ago. I have no idea how dangerous, useful, or both it may be. Whatever it is, I'm sure it is nowhere near the league of truly dangerous substances like weaponized anthrax spores, radioactive and toxic elements such as plutonium and polonium, and unstable and highly corrosive and explosive chemicals such as FOOF.

    I do know that the DEA is not above running a propaganda campaign, trying to "grow their business" regardless of the public interest, same as the slimiest corporate members of the Prison Industrial Complex to which they are too closely connected. Alcohol Prohibition was big business, and when that ended, Harry Anslinger, the head of the predecessor to the DEA, successfully stoked and rode the smearing of marijuana into criminalizing it in the 1930s and making more work for them. Marijuana was driven underground for 80 years thanks to that. Took that long to unravel Anslinger's propaganda and widely disseminate the information that marijuana got a bad rap, and does have beneficial uses.

    When the DEA issues a bald statement that kratom has "no legitimate medical use", they cross the line. Aren't they still the ones who define what constitutes "legitimate"? Considering their history, why are they still allowed to do that? It's all too easy to see that such a statement about kratom is self-fulfilling and self-serving.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kurenai.tsubasa on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:20PM

      by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Thursday September 01 2016, @02:20PM (#396173) Journal

      I've heard it can alleviate symptoms of social anxiety and moderate depression. I haven't heard of it having effects anything like salvia, cannabis, shrooms, that Jimsonweed (avoid this one), nutmeg etc. Meant to try it but never got around to it. Too late now I guess!

      The DEA needs to be eliminated. What doctors did they consult on this determination? What research did they use? What epidemiology data do they have? Zero, zilch, and nada I'm guessing. These are not the actions of a legitimate agency working in the public's interest.


      I, for one, demand that the DEA outlaw nutmeg and in particular 6-allyl-4-methoxy-1,3-benzodioxole (see, I can pull scary chemical names off Wikipedia too!). It can lead to dehydration and delerium. It has a potential for abuse (really, some people swear by it, especially commie hipsters like artists!). It has no legitimate medical use. What hospital stocks nutmeg, even in the kitchen? See!

      Nutmeg is a danger to society and public health and must be outlawed on schedule 1 immediately!

      • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:21PM

        by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @03:21PM (#396195)

        I can completely understand not wanting people making unproven medical claims, but that aside, if there's no proven harm, how the hell can they do this?

        • (Score: 1) by Francis on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:06PM

          by Francis (5544) on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:06PM (#396259)

          Perhaps do some reading about what the US was like prior to establishing rules about medical claims. These are substances that have unknown qualities that shouldn't be permitted to gain a foothold without research backing their safety. Just look at alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. Those were permitted to be used long enough that enforcement became an issue.

          People have become sufficiently habituated to them that they make up all sorts of lies and myths in order to gain legal access to them that aren't based in any sort of evidence. Now, chances are with marijuana that it'll be legalized without much problem in the future, but alcohol and tobacco result in a large number of fatalities every year and trying to put them back in the bottle has proven to be problematic as addicts refuse to give them up even though there's huge harm to people that aren't using them.

          Bottom line here is that we don't allow pharmaceutical companies to release untested products, so why should we allow the importation of substances with unknown effects on the human body? Even industrial chemicals have stricter regulation than you're suggesting.

          • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:26PM

            by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:26PM (#396332)

            Once again, I'm not talking about medical claims. Cannabis never should have been added to schedule one in the first place. These are not 'products', these are plants.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @08:06PM

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @08:06PM (#396357) Journal

            If you want to grow Schedule I plants and fungi including cannabis, shrooms, peyote, (and soon) kratom in your own home, it is illegal. Forget importation or snake oil salesmen. You are not allowed to grow what you want, even if you have no intention of consuming or distributing it.

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          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:01PM

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:01PM (#396411) Journal


            In the words of a 2015 Brookings Institution report, a move to Schedule II "would signal to the medical community that [the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health] are ready to take medical marijuana research seriously, and help overcome a government-sponsored chilling effect on research that manifests in direct and indirect ways."

            You want to prohibit people from selling it as a therapeutic drug? Use the FDA to do that but allow recreational sales. You want to do peer-reviewed research on this substance and other substances? Don't put it on Schedule I.

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          • (Score: 2, Interesting) by kurenai.tsubasa on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:42PM

            by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:42PM (#396431) Journal

            I don't know how to prove to you that you're objectively wrong about cannabis. However, I was being half serious in my other comment calling for the DEA to be investigated for not scheduling alcohol and nicotine. As far as kratom here, I have no idea honestly. I can't point to any personal experience or any actual data to make an argument one way or another whether it's harmful or beneficial. I've merely been trained by the propaganda machine that's filled your head with cargo cult science and lies to automatically assume the opposite of what the DEA is claiming is true.

            What we saw during alcohol prohibition was that prohibition itself made alcohol consumption trendy and more popular. I don't know that I exactly have proof that's at work with cannabis, nor do I expect it to exactly go that way because of how different cannabis is from alcohol. I can provide proof now that cannabis legalization does reduce opioid addiction.

            I understand you disapprove of religious types. You're taking a lot of your knowledge about cannabis on faith, and the more research pops up, the more you sound like a flat-Earther.

            In fact, if your goal really is harm reduction, I have a link for you. I'm sure you consider anything NORML publishes potheads trying to get their addictions legalized, but please at least read this opinion about Portugal's successful drug policy []. I hope you'll at least consider that, as biased as the source I'm linking may be, there are objective numbers there that we simply cannot deny.

            Prohibition, unfortunately, like abstinence or fat shaming or what have you, is dynamite on paper, but it just simply doesn't work in the real world—if your goal is harm reduction.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by kurenai.tsubasa on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:09PM

          by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:09PM (#396263) Journal

          Same way they do everything else it seems: Because. They. Can.

          Doing some reading, the DEA seems to have linked deaths to the use of this one. As always, they'll give us the raw numbers to sound scary (deaths! [3 of them] hundreds needing medical care! [over a 5 year period]) but that's not epidemiology data.

          The evidence is beyond underwhelming. The only thing I've heard related to illegal, natural medicines that was more underwhelming was about the (two) deaths caused by cannabis edibles (and alcohol) in Colorado.

          As always, we're left to wonder about the legitimacy of the DEA when they still haven't put ethyl alcohol, tobacco, nutmeg, or datura (Jimsonweed) on schedule I and have refused to move cannabis to schedule II in light of evidence of legitimate medicinal uses. Preaching to the choir, but the DEA should be investigated for their failure to respond to the overwhelming evidence about at least ethyl alcohol and tobacco. I expect corruption charges against high ranking officials. Heads need to roll over the DEA's failure to act on alcohol and tobacco.

          I'd also like a pony.

          (I'm assuming if the 9th and 10th amendments don't fucking matter then the 21st amendment shouldn't fucking matter either. Ethyl alcohol used to have medicinal uses, but we have safer and more effective alternatives these days such as local anesthesia, etc.)

          • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:24PM

            by sjames (2882) on Thursday September 01 2016, @10:24PM (#396423) Journal

            Tobacco and ethanol do not belong on the list either. Both may be abused and there are certainly some people who should never touch ethanol, but both have long been used as part of the natural pharmacopoeia.

            It was recently discovered that nicotine is one of the very few substances that can treat the negative symptoms of schizophrenia (it was the only one at the time of 'discovery'). Tobacco macerated and applied topically to a sprain works wonders.

            The DEA needs to just go away, period. The FDA needs to be broken apart and re-built from scratch, preferably as a purely advisory organization.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bziman on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:40PM

    by bziman (3577) on Thursday September 01 2016, @01:40PM (#396161)

    And like most big businesses, Big Pharma has a government agency to protect their cartel against any potential cheaper alternatives.

    Of course this probably isn't just Big Pharma. The tobacco (and alcohol, to a lesser extent) industry won't tolerate anything that might be used recreationally, and big defense won't tolerate anything that might lead to the demilitarization of the police.

    So anything new that might be useful or fun is going to be stonewalled.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Gravis on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:12PM

    by Gravis (4596) on Thursday September 01 2016, @05:12PM (#396271)

    Mitragyna speciosa, also known as ketum or kratom,[2] is a tropical deciduous and evergreen tree in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) native to Southeast Asia in the Indochina and Malaysia phytochoria (botanical regions). M. speciosa is indigenous to Thailand where it has been used in traditional medicine.[3]

    Little research has been done on the health effects and it has no approved medical uses.[4][5] Some people use it for managing chronic pain, opioid withdrawal, or recreationally.[6][4] Effects last for between two and five hours.[4] Kratom use is not detected by typical drug screening tests, but its metabolites can be detected by more specialized testing.[7][8]

    Minor side effects may include itchiness, vomiting, and constipation.[4] More severe side effects may include a decreased effort to breathe, seizure, addiction, and psychosis.[4] Other side effects include high heart rate and blood pressure, liver toxicity, and trouble sleeping.[9][10] Naloxone may be used to treat an overdose that results in a reduced effort to breathe.[4] In the United States between 2014 and 2016, 15 deaths have been associated with kratom use.[9] Though not an opiate itself, kratom is thought to behave similarly to an opiate like morphine.[5]

    -- wikipedia []

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 02 2016, @12:02AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 02 2016, @12:02AM (#396466)

      While its not a traditional opiate like morphine, it is indeed an opioid with activity at the mu-opioid receptor. Mitragynine and its metabolites are full mu-agonists, like morphine, however its activity at other opioid receptors changes its pharmacological profile substantially. Its generally accepted that kratom doesn't cause hypoventilation or bradycardia like other traditional opioids would when taken in high amounts. This results in an astoundingly high therapeutic index for an opioid. Kratom can still be addictive however and can cause withdrawal symptoms when its is stopped after an extended period of use. Its quite saddening to hear it being moved to schedule I however. Many heroin and prescription painkiller addicts use kratom as a stepping stone to get off opioids entirely. The only thing making kratom illegal will do is create a new class of criminals for the justice system to hoover up into private prisons. People who are currently on kratom may move to harder opioids to stop the withdrawal while users of those harder opioids won't have the opportunity to use kratom to ease their way do if they wanted to. This is NOT the solution to the opioid addiction epidemic this country seems to be suffering from. Treatment programs and medications that ACTUALLY WORK (hint, get MC-18 onto the goddamn market already) are the only way to combat opioid addiction. You will never get rid of the heroin or destroy the market for diverted painkillers. The DEA has its head so far up its ass though, so real changes aren't coming anytime soon.

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @06:31PM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @06:31PM (#396305) Journal

    The White House petition was over 24k when I submitted the story. Now it's at 31,674.

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    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday September 01 2016, @11:42PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday September 01 2016, @11:42PM (#396456) Journal

      34,662. Decent progress for 5 hours, and they have the rest of the month. They might just do it.

      Only to be answered with a condescending and half-assed response, and for the DEA plan to go unopposed.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by nyder on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:45PM

    by nyder (4525) on Thursday September 01 2016, @07:45PM (#396343)

    Drug ENFORCEMENT Agency. Enforcement, not lawmaking. That is the problem right there. The DEA should not be allowed to make laws, to decide what is legal or not legal. They should just be following the laws congress makes. Yet they are making laws and deciding what is legal and not legal. Which is stupid. If left to the DEA, everything will become illegal so they can make money off of it, just like they are making money today off of illegal stops (by taking money/assests from people without trials.

  • (Score: 1) by Fauxlosopher on Friday September 02 2016, @02:06AM

    by Fauxlosopher (4804) on Friday September 02 2016, @02:06AM (#396514) Journal

    The DEA and the rest of the US fedgov cannot legally exist without the US Constitution. The US Constitution's sole source of legitimate authority is that which is delegated to it by We the People. Authority not already possessed cannot be delegated.

    Since I don't have the authority as an individual to grab my gun and kill (or kidnap, etc.) my neighbor over his possession of [tree], [weed], or [element], neither can I delegate such authority to any government. If government agents kill/kidnap/etc. people over possession of such things regardless, they are literal criminals for doing so regardless of any "laws" in the books. (Any law in contradiction with the Constitution is as void as if it had never been passed at all.)

    The DEA is literally a criminal gang no different in principle than the other drug gangs like MS-13. []